Hand of Light, Episode 12 – The Bone Hole

Session Date: April 15, 2017

In-Game Dates: 30 Mirtul to 12 Kythorn

You want to touch me?

Soon after the massive meteorite slammed into the Sea of Swords, the Hand of Light hears the steadily growing roar of what they assume to be a tidal wave headed toward Waterdeep.

Dona leads the former captives of the githyanki, including one of her sisters, toward the heroes’ compound nearby. Dexter enters the warehouse they just exited to warn the Red Sashes but finds them gone. Meanwhile, Dunkle scales a building to get a better look at the oncoming tidal wave.

From atop the building the rogue commands a perfect view. Sure enough, a tidal wave some twenty feet tall is rushing toward the coast. Dunkle sees the wave slam into Mount Waterdeep to little effect, simply breaking upon its steep slope. However, low-lying Dock Ward isn’t so lucky.

The tidal wave lifts ships and boats docked in the bay and propels them forward. The shipping-carrying wave crashes into the buildings of Dock Ward, leveling several blocks. As Dunkle watches in horror, he notices movement inside the tidal waves, and spots red, blue, green, and purple shapes.

Much of the force of the wave is dissipated when it hits the building Dunkle is on, though, and it merely gives it a sound shaking. Karn, Lyr, and Dexter are hit by the water and knocked off their feet.

As the chaos of the tidal wave settles, a new chaos rises: people screaming in confusion and pain. Karn and Lyr rush to aid anyone still alive in the leveled area of Dock Ward. When Dona returns from the heroes’ compound, she does the same.

It should be noted that Lyr doesn’t actually help rescue anyone. He puts on a good show of helping, but in fact is just pretending to help. He does cast a spell on Karn to increase his strength, allowing the paladin to clear rubble off trapped citizens. (And thus, let the record show that Lyr wasn’t completely indifferent to the suffering of innocents.)

Dexter casts fly on himself, and rises a hundred or so feet above the city to survey the wreckage better. He spots a large red creature grab a woman, shake her briefly, and then let her go. Thinking this odd, he and Dunkle go to investigate.

They find a large red toad-like creature hiding in an alley. The creature telepathically beckons the wizard – who is perched on the edge of a building three stories up – to come closer; Dexter declines. When Dunkle, on the ground, investigates, the toad creature moves toward the rogue telepathically saying, Just one touch, and it’ll be over quickly!

Dexter casts web on the monster to stop if from getting to the rogue, but the massive beast breaks free. Dunkle stabs it with his rapier, tries to keep his distance, but receives a nasty wound for his effort. The scuffle ends when Dexter banishes the creature, which the wizard had identified as some extraplanar monster.

Karn, Lyr, and Dona arrive on the scene after Dexter’s bat went to warn them that trouble was afoot. [Apparently, the wizard’s familiar has some sort of danger signal to let others know. Kind of like Lassie, I suppose…] Just as the three of them arrive, another red toad beast jumps out of a fountain nearby to attack Dunkle. [See, I told you it was like Lassie. Only a fountain instead of a well.] And not to be one-upped, another toad monster – this one blue – breaks through the front of a building where it was hiding and attacks.

Throughout the battle, the toad creatures telepathically tell the heroes they “just want to touch them.” Needless to say, the heroes do everything possible to ensure they don’t.

Dunkle climbs a building, lights a cigarette, and begins firing arrows at the monsters. Doing what they do best, Karn and Dona hack the red creature to pieces. Dexter meanwhile starts popping them with rays of frost.

The Hand of Light fights giant toad-like creatures in the streets of Waterdeep.

As the blue toad beast begins to scale the building to go after Dexter, Lyr polymorphs it into a small blue toad. The small toad falls to the ground, splatters on the cobblestones, and turns back into the blue toad creature. Karn is right there waiting for it, magical halberd slashing viciously.

Once the creatures are vanquished, the heroes inspect their bodies. Dexter finds small tubes on the hands of the red creatures, and the blue creature’s hands are a diseased black color. Several of the heroes were indeed “touched” by the monsters, and Dexter announces that they may be infected with some sort of disease.

By this time, the soldiers of Waterdeep and other adventurers have organized themselves against other groups of the toad creatures. The beasts don’t last long and are either slain or driven back into the sea.

The Hand of Light refuses to stand on the red text.

New Olamn

The heroes take the blue and red monsters to the New Olamn bard college, hoping to discover more about them, especially the nature of the disease they spread.

A sage at New Olamn dissects the red monster and finds a sack of small eggs in its belly. It appears that the monster injects the eggs into victims from the tubes in its hands. Now understanding why the creature wanted to touch her, Dona vomits noisily up on the floor.

The blue creature’s hands also carry some sort of disease. The sage suspects that those infected with the disease slowly transform into the toad-like creatures.

When High Harper Pharlonae Song-Joy arrives, a name is finally put to the monsters: slaadi.

Understanding of the slaadi’s true goals now dawns on the heroes: in the chaotic aftermath of the tidal wave, the monsters were infecting as many of the people in the city as possible. After several weeks or months, slaadi tadpoles will be bursting out of their chests, and other people will simply be transforming into the hideous monsters.

House of Duty

The heroes go to The House of Duty, the temple of Torm in the city. The temple has become a makeshift triage for those who were wounded in the disaster.

The heroes speak to Priest Inquisitor Raikon Kelsey to convince him to cure the infected people of Waterdeep. The Priest Inquisitor is very reluctant to do so, claiming that only those who properly donate to the temple can be cured.

When a guilt trip doesn’t convince the priest, the heroes take a different tact. They tell him that if the temples of Waterdeep don’t help, then the people will turn to the Guild of Apothecaries and Physicians. If the guild cures the people, it will earn them the favor of the populace and a powerful bargaining chip with the Lords of Waterdeep. In the past, the guild has tried to have healing by non-guild members – namely by the temples – outlawed. The heroes claim that after saving the people from this horrible disease, the guild might be able to accomplish that goal.

This finally convinces Priest Inquisitor Kelsey. He exclaims that not only will The House of Duty set to work immediately curing the populace, but they will convince the other temples in the city to aid as well. And to begin, the Priest Inquisitor himself cures the infected heroes of the slaadi infestation.

Downtime

The heroes spend the next tenday resting from their recent endeavors and pursuing personal interests.

Dona talks to the Scribe – a professional spy and informant who works for the heroes [when they don’t forget about him] – and asks him to get information about four of her siblings that are still missing. She also wants to know how to get to Skullport, where they believe two of her siblings currently are, and she wants a map of Skullport.

Lyr talks to the Scribe, too, though he requests the man dig up dirt on Physic Verdon Huldah, the ass wipe at the Guild of Apothecaries and Physicians who’s been giving the heroes a hard time. The bard also throws a grand musical benefits concert to raise money to rebuild the Sloshing Boot, Lyr’s patron tavern. He manages to raise five thousand gold for it. Lyr also spends some time at New Olamn, instructing students.

Dunkle spends his time gambling with nobles and rich merchants and getting to know Waterdeep, since it’s his first time there. He loses a couple hundred gold on the gambling – which is nothing compared to twenty thousand gold – but does learn the general layout of the city.

Dexter makes some scroll purchases, and spends his time learning new powerful spells.

There is one hero who doesn’t forget about the tragedy that recently happened to the city. Karn spends his time tending to the wounding and otherwise helping people who were affected by the tidal wave and slaadi attack.

Is it normal to have that many heads?

At the end of their tenday of rest, Dunkle finds a note in his pocket from Etis Bright. The note requests that the heroes meet him at “the same place, same time.”

[Etis Bright is the NPC who, claiming to work for the Red Sashes, has been directing the heroes toward eliminating the Shadow Thieves from Waterdeep. Recently, the heroes discovered that Etis works for a rival criminal organization known as the Xanathar. So, Etis Bright has had them duped this entire time…]

Confident that it’s a trap, but none-the-less motivated to beat the shit out of Etis and get some information about his Xanathar masters, the heroes head to the City of the Dead shortly after midnight. Before their meeting, Dexter casts Rary’s Telepathic Bond so the heroes can communicate telepathically with each other. In the City of the Dead, they find Etis waiting in the alley between two mausoleums.

After some agitated banter and threats, Etis pulls a lever and disappears down a hole in the ground. Dexter sends his bat familiar down the hole to investigate. A long, slimy chute leads into the sewers. It’s a large chamber with tunnels leading away from it. However, the tunnels are blocked by portcullises.

One by one, the members of the Hand of the Light declare there is no way in the Nine Hells they are going down there. It’s obviously a trap. That room could have dozens of Xanathar soldiers surrounding it. There could be monsters. The list goes on.

However, Lyr – sweet Lyr – jumps down the chute anyway. [Lyr to save the DM’s day…]

The bard lands in the sewer water and notices that thousands of bones float on the surface of the water. Humanoid bones. Probably human bones.

Lyr climbs out of the water and looks through a portcullis where he spots Etis Bright running off down the tunnel. Indifferent to the danger and not wanting their quarry to escape, he dimension doors to the other side of the portcullis and gives chase.

The ever-noble Karn then jumps down the chute after the foolish bard. After landing in the water, he notices movement below him and scrambles out of the water. Dunkle splashes in the water and also quickly climbs out.

Then five serpentine heads shoot out of the water, attacking the paladin and rogue. The heads are massive – nearly large enough to swallow a man hole – and after attacking dip back into the water, out of sight.

“Need some help down here!” Karn telepathically shouts at Dona and Dexter. The paladin and rogue did okay against the first volley of attacks, but they had no desire to keep going at it alone.

Dona makes a big fuss about the slime and sewers being icky, and spends some time arguing with Karn. [This was awesome. Crazy monster attacking two characters, and Dona makes a fuss about how icky the sewers are. She spent at least one round refusing to go down there.]

Dexter, though, heads down, using his magical socks of spider climbing to control his descent. Finally, the barbarian does go down the chute, landing in the water just above the many-headed monster.

The heroes engage a multi-headed hydra in the sewers below the City of the Dead.

The monster stays out of sight in the murky water, making it a very difficult target. However, Dona, Karn, and Dunkle all hack and stab away at it, destroying three of its five heads.

Meanwhile, Dexter casts light on a brick in the ceiling, uses his dagger to break the brick free, and tosses it into the water. The magically lit brick sinks to the bottom of the water, provided sufficient illumination to see the monster.

“Oh shit,” Dexter mutters as the many-headed creatures comes into view. “Hydra!”

Hearing his companions in trouble – he didn’t go far in his chase after Etis – Lyr moves to the portcullis winch. However, Etis Bright leaps out of the water and attacks. After taking a couple nasty hits, Lyr polymorphs into a giant crocodile.

Lyr knocks Etis from his feet with a tail lash, and then chomps onto him with this tooth-filled maw. Etis flails away at Lyr, hoping to break the bard’s concentration, but to no avail. Lyr grinds his teeth down into the man, and he goes limp.

As the others fight the hydra, Lyr turns into a giant crocodile and takes a bite out of crime.

As the others continue their attacks against the hydra, two new heads magically grow from the dead heads, giving the monster a total of eight heads.

Desperate, Dunkle summons a surge of pirate energy and dives into the water, rapier extended. The blade sinks to the hilt in the hydra’s bulk. Next to the rogue, Dona hacks wildly at the monster with her silver githyanki sword.

However, the monster’s heads continue to bite the heroes, mixing their blood in the water along with its own. Several times the hydra tries to grab Dona and Dunkle in its maws to drag them off for safer consumption, but it’s unsuccessful.

Knowing things are becoming desperate, Dexter casts Evard’s Black Tentacles on the monster, restraining it.

Never one to be outdone by a rogue and wizard that don’t walk in the light of Torm, Karn calls upon his deity to imbue his weapon with holy power. The paladin then hacks off four of the hydra’s heads, leaps into the air, and drives his halberd deep into the monster’s body. [Critical hit with a level three smite: 51 hit points of damage. Oh, baby…]

With that mighty blow, the hydra’s heads go limp, and the monster’s bulk settles to the bottom of the sewer water.

The Interrogation

The heroes take Etis Bright, who’s only unconscious, back to their compound and toss him in a cell. Dexter polymorphs into a dire ape to drag the hydra back to their compound, too.

After Etis Bright wakes up, the Hand of Light begin their questioning. Etis folds quickly under their relentless interrogation – especially Donas – and tells them everything he knows about the Xanathar. Etis also turns out to be a doppelganger.

Etis tells them that he works for Shindia Darkeyes, the spy master of the Xanathar, and meets her every tenday at the Thirsty Throat Tavern. Their former companion, Katso, has been working for Shindia, too. The Xanathar is a thieves guild of sorts that deals heavily in slavery and assassinations. They operate in Skullport, an underground smuggling and trading base, and are run by someone called the Xanathar. [Yes, the Xanathar is led by someone called the Xanathar. Yes, it’s confusing. Sorry.]

In the end, Dona intimidates the shit out of Etis Bright, and the doppelganger agrees to help the heroes get to Skullport and find Dona’s siblings.

The Hand of Light

Below are the famed members of the Hand of Light adventuring party.

Aelyrendar "Lyr" Fairsong - Bard

Dexter Ambrose - Wizard

Dona Falone - Barbarian

Dunkle Fledermaus - Rogue

Karn Mondel - Paladin of Torm

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